into a book. He asked the man what he was doing. The man said he was studying Panini's grammar. Sankara's heart was moved to compassion. "What are you doing studying grammar!?!" Sankara exclaimed. The man was near death, and he was thinking of grammar! Sankara told him he should be thinking about God.
After this incident, Sankara and his disciples composed the beautiful hymn "Bhaja Govindam". Below is the English translation of Bhaja Govindam. M.S. Subhalakshmi has made a wonderful recording of Bhaja Govindam which is widely available.
Worship Govinda (Krishna), Worship Govinda, Worship Govinda. Oh fool!
Rules of Grammar will not save you at the time of your death.
Oh fool! Give up your thirst to amass wealth, devote your mind to thoughts to the Real. Be content with what comes through actions already performed in the past.
Do not get drowned in delusion by going wild with passions and lust by seeing a woman's navel and chest. These are nothing but a modification of flesh. Do not fail to remember this again and again in your mind.
The life of a man is as uncertain as rain drops trembling on a lotus leaf.
Know that the whole world remains a prey to disease, ego and grief.
So long as a man is fit and able to support his family, see the affection all those around him show. But no one at home cares to even have a word with him when his body totters due to old age.
When one is alive, his family members enquire kindly about his welfare. But when the soul departs from the body, even his wife runs away in fear of the corpse.
The childhood is lost by attachment to playfulness. Youth is lost by attachment to woman. Old age passes away by thinking over many past things. But there is hardly anyone who wants to be lost in ParaBrahman.
Who is your wife? Who is your son? Strange is this samsara. Of whom are you? From where have you come? Brother, ponder over these truths here.
From Satsangh (singing holy names with others) comes non-attachment, from non-attachment comes freedom from delusion, which leads to self-settledness. From self-settledness comes Jeevan Mukti (liberation).
What good is lust when youth has fled? What use is a lake which has no water? Where are the relatives when wealth is gone? Where is samsara when the Truth is known?
Do not boast of wealth, friends, and youth. Each one of these are destroyed within a minute. Free yourself from the illusion of the world of Maya and attain the timeless Truth.
Daylight and darkness, dusk and dawn, winter and springtime come and go. Time plays and life ebbs away. But the storm of desire never leaves.
This bouquet of twelve verses was imparted to the grammarian by the all-knowing Sankara, adored as the BhagavadPada.
Worship Govinda, worship Govinda, worship Govinda, Oh fool! Other than chanting the Lord's names, there is no other way to cross the life's ocean.